MCL strain slowed Rangers defenseman in playoffs: report

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Florida Panthers at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Fox confirmed on breakup day last week that he reaggravated a knee injury during the Stanley Cup Playoffs but played through it for the New York Rangers. Now, Mollie Walker of the New York Post reported Wednesday that the Rangers defenseman sustained a “mild MCL strain” in his knee.

“To say it was a tear would be inaccurate, according to a source,” Walker reported.

The reports does not come as a surprise, both based on what Fox told reporters once the playoffs were over and by watching him play in the postseason.

The 26-year-old was on the receiving end of a knee-on-knee hit by Washington Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen in Game 4 of the first round. Fox appeared to be in pain, but returned to finish the game.

Fox took several maintenance days before the second round against the Carolina Hurricanes, but never missed a shift in that six-game series nor in the Eastern Conference Final against the Florida Panthers, when the Rangers were eliminated in six games. And he led the Rangers with an average of 23:57 in ice time per game in the playoffs.

The 2020-21 Norris Trophy winner was not himself, however. He didn’t appear to have that extra gear with his skating and labored often to move the puck out of his own end and create offense at the other end of the ice.

Fox finished with eight assists in 16 postseason games, and appeared to be moving better later in the Panthers series. He had four assists in the conference final and seemed to be more confident in his skating, especially the final two games.

“Especially for me, I’m relied on to produce and you want to get a bit more production, obviously … would’ve loved to get some goals, a few more assists, maybe,” Fox said on breakup day. “For me, you want to have a bit more production and be that difference, especially in games that are so tight.”

Related: Where Rangers stand after NHL salary cap increases

Adam Fox sustained knee injury with Rangers early in 2023-24 season

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Fox was originally injured Nov. 2 in a regular-season game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Sebastian Aho clipped Fox knee-on-knee and the defenseman missed a month of action.

Despite that, Fox got better as the season progressed and finished with an NHL career-high 17 goals, and averaged a point per game (73 points in 72 games).

Despite his solid numbers, Fox failed to be voted a finalist for the Norris Trophy as top defenseman in the NHL.

In the postseason, Fox had two assists in the first-round sweep against the Capitals and then opened the second round with an assist in each of the first two games against the Hurricanes. He was held off the score sheet the next five games before a resurgence of sorts in the conference final.

Fox has not scored a playoff goal in 29 consecutive games, dating to Game 7 against the Hurricanes in the second round of the postseason on May 30, 2022.

He wasn’t the only Rangers defenseman playing through pain in these playoffs. Ryan Lindgren sustained a cracked rib in Game 6 against the Hurricanes and Jacob Trouba fractured his ankle in March.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

Mentioned in this article:

More About: